More Gold for Emerging Interface Designers

Credit: Negative Space c/o Unsplash.com

This industry, and many like it, are in a constant state of flux. New tools, techniques, and terminology evolve from insights revealed during ceaseless production. When the Web Design program at Humber College first began, Oculus Rift was just about to launch on Kickstarter. Yesterday, Samsung announced it was granted a patent for smart contact lenses that directly project images into a user’s eye. Next year any institution not guiding students to develop interactive experiences that include VR & AR will be doing their students a disservice.

For my own continual edification, I spend most mornings reading, learning, and dreaming up meaningful ways to integrate new gems like AI services into my personal projects. Ahem, Rights.Kit. We are far more likely to be using a combination of gesture, voice, and touch for our future interfaces in the coming wave of products that are married with powerful machine thinking behind them. We’ve come a long way since the Netscape browser that I started on.

For my students, both in second and third year of a three year program, continuously advancing their understanding of why we build things must always walk hand in hand with how. The technology we use will never sit still.

During their final projects the following resources will be enormously helpful. As they are for me and anyone else who practices interactive design.


Text in this VR GUI. http://www.mastersofpie.com/project/siemens-oculus-rift-tradeshow-experience/

Use Your Words

The written word makes up a significant portion of how we build our interfaces. Even the best GUIs use text. What happens when you don’t consider the language used in your interface? It fails. It breaks the user’s trust and in the end, costs money when visitors lack the confidence to use your product or purchase your service.

Avoid “Sign up” vs “Sign in” confusion — go for alternate verbs, phrases, syllables, and design.
Source: UXMovement

A recent study showed that outside the design team, the cost of solving poor communication skills is falling on corporations. This tells us that if we want to have a competitive edge, ensure we are valuable to our team and the companies that employ us, we should invest in our own communication skills.

For our immediate work, we can start reminding ourselves why this is important for interface designers with examples from The User Experience of Good Content .

And this quote from Jeffrey Zeldman.

“Man this person is talking about type, why do I care.” You do care, because the product that you’re creating is rendered in type, so you care very much.

Zeldman is interviewed on topics that include the role of design finally being so highly valued that production work is drying up because corporations are bringing talent in-house.

The average person with a smartphone or laptop and a stable internet connection probably spends more time interacting with typography in a single day than with food, music, and family combined.

Get a refresher on the basics of good online type with this 5 point primer from Studio Function.

Like Steve Krug before him, Nick Babich taps the wellspring of interaction fundamentals with current examples to support his articles. I recommend you follow him on Medium. Easy to digest, valuable material. Here is his deep dive into Progress Indicators.

“Good progress indicators always give some type of immediate feedback. They notify users that the app needs more time to process the user action, and tell (approximately) how much time it will take.”

Industry Insights

Kent Mundle from Toptal narrows down common app design mistakes to a list of 10. In the process he gives us both problems to avoid and clear targets to aim for when sculpting our application experiences.

Consider the immediate context or situation in which the app is intended to be used.

Especially salient advice for those projects using smartphone interfaces to control physical devices.


Last week the prophets of oblivion took to every street corner and digital soapbox to decry the coming changes to Instagram’s feed order change. Like Facebook before them (now proud owners of Instagram) they aim to help users get to the content they really want. Notifications became the keyword in a battle for attention. Demonstrating how important feedback, whether in-app or in-another-app, is to users as an interface expectation.

Authored by Alex Potrivaev at Intercom, a communications platform, here is a spectacular deep-dive into Designing Smart Notifications

Notifications at the wrong time are worse than useless. Irrelevant pings not only get ignored, but the noise they create dilutes focus, causes frustration and a false sense of urgency.

Structuring a design team in a continuous delivery agile environment.
A stream consists of a mix of backend and frontend developers, plus a product manager. We embed our UX designers within these streams, and they sit alongside the developers and the product manager.

Outstanding article on workflow in this transparent and fascinating look at Envato.

This collection is a continuation of resources curated for Humber College Web Design students. If you missed it the first time here is the first instalment; 15 Nuggets of Gold for the Emerging Interface Designer

Enjoy and spread the wealth!